Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva is under fire again after the seasoned County of Los Angeles Inspector General Max Huntsman wrote to the Sheriff to inform him that his office has compiled a list of deputies who are “identified as allegedly being tattooed members of the Banditos or Executioners”. The letter alleges that 11 deputies are members of the Banditos and that they are operating out of the East LA sheriff’s station. The letter also alleges that 30 other deputies are members of the Executioners operating from the Compton station.
Inspector General Max Huntsman says that the gang members operating out of the sheriff’s offices can be “identified by their signature tattoos”. Huntsman is a seasoned county employee with 29 years of service who has experience working for the office of the District Attorney and is known for leading anti-corruption efforts, conducting investigations and prosecuting white-collar crime throughout his law career.
This is not the first time that Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been accused of enabling “deputy gangs” in the department. Members of the community have filed numerous lawsuits and the idea that gangs work through LASD has been debated for decades. Insider reported just last month that a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy associated with the Executioners testified that he had attended seven so-called inking parties.
Huntsman’s office is investigating several other “potential law enforcement gangs,” including the Grim Reapers, Jump Out Boys, and the Vikings. The inspector general told the Los Angeles Times, “LASD has never thoroughly investigated allegations of gang corruption, and this case is no exception”.
On March 24, 2022, the civilian commission charged with oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced a “full-scale investigation” into alleged deputy gangs operating within the agency.
“Deputy gangs have fostered and promoted excessive force against citizens, discriminated against other deputies based on race and gender, and undermined the chain of command and discipline. Despite years of documented history of this issue, the department has failed to eliminate the gangs,” Sean Kennedy, chair of the Civilian Oversight Commission and executive director of the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law & Policy said in a statement.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva says that Inspector General Huntsman’s investigation is a “fishing expedition” and “political theater”. He claims that the county Board of Supervisors is behind Huntsman’s political motives and said that “not one deputy `gang member’ has been identified”. “I can see this for what it is — the weaponization of government in order to influence the outcome of an election, nothing more,” the sheriff said.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the Sheriff’s claimed Huntsman has “failed to provide any actual evidence or new information” and that he has an “unhealthy obsession to attack the department”. The sheriff also said, “The timing of this letter suggests Mr. Huntsman is using his public office and resources to campaign against the sheriff leading up to the June primaries”.
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